21 Over-the-Top Marriage Proposals

'Will You Marry Me?'

Celeste Martearena/gettyimages

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'Will You Marry Me?'
Celeste Martearena/gettyimages

'Will You Marry Me?'

A wedding can be an expensive enterprise, starting with the proposal preceding it. In 2016, the wedding services industry was worth $72 billion in the United States alone, with a growing percentage of that going toward popping the question, sometimes with the help of high-end planning services. In this increasingly competitive aspect of courtship, these are the proposals that stand out as particularly excessive (with one even happening at the Olympics). If there's one thing to be learned, though, it's that a lavish proposal is no guarantee of a long marriage.

Related: The Cost of a Wedding in Every State

Maria Belen Perez Maurice
Getty Images/Patrick Smith/Staff

An Olympic Proposal

After being eliminated in women's saber during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Argentine fencer Maria Belen Perez Maurice was speaking to the press about her loss when she was urged to turn around. Her long-time coach and partner Lucas Guillermo Saucedo was holding a quickly scribbled sign with the words "Will you marry me?" The answer seems to be an enthusiastic yes, according to ABC News.  “They (the press) told me to turn around and he had the letter. I forgot everything. I was like, ‘Oh my God,’” Perez Maurice said. “We are very happy."

It turns out the fencer might have had to wait if she had won. “I love her, and when she lost the match she got very sad, so maybe this proposal should change her mentality," Guillerno Saucedo said. "I wrote on the paper in the moment. If she had won, no, I would have waited for the moment.”

Related: 12 Tips for a Happy and Healthy Marriage From Senior Couples

Custom Video Game

Custom Video Game

In 2015, Kentucky game developer Austin Piech asked girlfriend Lauren Woodrick to test a game he'd been developing titled "Lolo's Bizarre Adventure," which he'd spent about 100 hours working on. It was actually a game inspired by their relationship, with levels such as their first date at a local pizza parlor and road trip to Indiana. The game ended with a mariachi band playing the song "Nosotros," recalling how Piech's grandfather proposed to his grandmother more than 60 years ago. Unsurprisingly, Woodrick said yes.

Kris Humphries and Kim Kardashian
Image Source/istockphoto

Kris Humphries & Kim Kardashian

When NBA player Kris Humphries proposed to Kim Kardashian in 2011, he did it with rose petals, candles, and a 20.5-carat diamond ring valued at $2 million on an episode of "Keeping Up With the Kardashians." The wedding itself cost a reported $10 million — an awful lot for a 72-day marriage that Humphries, aided by testimony from a producer of the reality show, later contended was a fraud.

Kanye West and Kim Kardashian
David Tran/istockphoto

Kanye West & Kim Kardashian

Kim Kardashian was the recipient of yet another extravagant proposal in 2013, when her current — but soon to be former — husband, rapper Kanye West, rented San Francisco's AT&T Park and invited some of the couple's closest friends and a 50-piece orchestra. As the stadium's jumbotron flashed "PLEEEASE MARRY MEEE!!!" West proposed by singing one of his guest verses from the 2009 Keri Hilson song "Knock You Down." Kardashian made her answer public by posting a photo of the $1.9 million engagement ring on Instagram with the caption, "YES!!!"

Related: 36 Longest Celebrity Marriages

Denied in Dubai

Denied in Dubai

Malaysian billionaire financier Low Taek Jho, aka Jho Low, executed one of the world's most opulent proposal plans this year in a failed attempt to woo Taiwanese singer Elva Hsiao. Rumored to cost $1.3 million, the proposal took place on the private beach belonging to Dubai's costly Atlantis resort and involved candles arranged into a heart, a neon-lit sign suspended between two yachts, custom-made Swiss jewelry, and a dining area specially constructed by architectural firm Ali Bakhtiar designs. The singer was reportedly moved to tears but still declined the proposal, saying she saw Low as a "little brother."

Related: Financial Infidelity: How to Save Your Marriage and Bank Account


In Hot Pursuit

To make his 2009 Fourth of July proposal as memorable as possible, Todd Grannis enlisted the help of a friend who was a professional stuntman to turn him into a human firework. Wearing a fire-retardant suit and a cape doused with gasoline, Grannis was set aflame and launched himself off a 10-foot platform into a pool below. Emerging from the water, he got down on one knee and delivered his punny proposal: "Malissa, you make me hot. I want to get the point across that I'm on fire for you. Will you marry me?"

Related: 11 Secrets to Managing Money in Marriage

Marry Me, Mariah

Marry Me, Mariah

Actor/singer Nick Cannon proposed to singer Mariah Carey in 2008 with a $2.3 million, 17-carat diamond hidden inside a candy ring pop. Confusingly, Carey said her now-ex-husband "kidnapped" her for a helicopter ride a few days later and re-proposed. The cost of the two proposals likely still paled in comparison with the 35-carat diamond and platinum ring she got from billionaire James Packer in 2016. They broke off their engagement within a year, but Carey reportedly got to keep the multimillion-dollar ring.

Zero G N794AJ
Zero G N794AJ by Andrew W. Sieber (CC BY-NC)

In Zero Gravity

Alexander Loucopoulos proposed to his space enthusiast girlfriend Graciela Asturias aboard a flight arranged by Space Adventures of Virginia that featured brief periods of zero gravity. Loucopoulos told the Associated Press at the time he was nervous the ring would float away from them during the voyage on a Boeing 727, which cost $3,500 per person.

MIT Foam Installation
MIT Foam Installation by Juhan Sonin (CC BY)

3D Art Installation

In 2007, Chicago designer George Aye planned his proposal to girlfriend Sara Cantor by creating a 3D model of the big question, "Will You Marry Me?" He built the piece in real life using metal rods and laser-cut foam shapes legible from only one vantage point. It was displayed at a Chicago gallery disguised under the name "My Early Muir Owl" (an anagram for "will you marry me") by artist Serge Gandaora ("George and Sara"). Cantor was stunned to realize the installation was actually made for her alone.

Seal and Heidi Klum

Seal & Heidi Klum

When singer Seal proposed to model Heidi Klum, he flew her by helicopter to a peak in the Canadian Rockies, where he'd had an igloo built and furnished with bedsheets, rose petals, candles, food, and champagne. On top of all that, he presented a yellow diamond engagement ring that cost $150,000. The couple divorced seven years later, in 2012.

A Crowdsourced Commercial

A Crowdsourced Commercial

Marketer Rand Fishkin wanted to propose to his girlfriend in a Super Bowl commercial, so he started an online fund to raise the $2.5 million necessary to buy the ad space on CBS. After collecting $85,000 for his romantic cause, Fishkin settled for getting his proposal aired several days after the big game in 2007, during a commercial break for his now-wife Geraldine's favorite show, "Veronica Mars." That cost a mere $3,000.

99 iPhones
Tereza Hanoldova/istockphoto

99 iPhones

A pricey and heavily publicized but nonetheless failed proposal attempt occurred in Guangzhou, China, just before Nov. 11, 2014, known in China as National Singles' Day. A man spent an estimated $80,000, about double his salary, to propose within a heart made up of 99 iPhones surrounded by friends and colleagues.

Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes

Tom Cruise & Katie Holmes

After less than three months of dating and one infamous couch-jumping incident, Tom Cruise proposed to Katie Holmes in Paris at the top of the Eiffel Tower with a $250,000 engagement ring. He confirmed the news in a press event later that morning. The couple got divorced about six years later.

Enlisting Tom Cruise

Enlisting Tom Cruise

That wasn't the only elaborate proposal involving Cruise. Two years prior, while filming "The Last Samurai," the actor appeared on Portuguese TV to ask a factory worker named Sonia for her hand in marriage on behalf of cameraman Joao Martins. In the clip shown on Portugal's RTP station later that day, Cruise said, "Sonia, you have to marry Joao. … He is crying behind the camera." She said yes.

A Rooftop Garden

A Rooftop Garden

The Heart Bandits is a Los Angeles firm that helps clients plan the perfect proposal. Among its most elaborate was a New York event in a rooftop garden complete with 9-foot orchid arrangements, designer shoes, a string quartet, and a custom monogram of the couple's initials at the bottom of a pool. The total cost came to $52,000, the BBC reports.

Celebrity Cameo and 700 Singers

Celebrity Cameo and 700 Singers

Another prominent high-end proposal-planning service is The One Romance, launched in London, which has served more than 2,000 couples since 2014. Its minimum budget is $1,248, and its most expensive proposal (as of last year) cost $624,000. That one involved a choir of 700 singers and a celebrity appearance.

Rolls-Royce and Skywriting in Paris

Rolls-Royce and Skywriting in Paris

ApoteoSurprise is a Paris-based proposal-planning company that tailors custom experiences to clients' preferences but also offers 30 prearranged proposal scenarios. The most expensive costs $21,183, for which the couple is chauffeured across Paris in a Rolls-Royce Corniche to enjoy a gourmet lunch overlooking the Seine valley, where they'll see four airplanes draw a heart across the sky.

Shutting Down Times Square

Shutting Down Times Square

"Million Dollar Listing New York" star Ryan Serhant made arrangements with the Times Square Alliance and the mayor's office to shut down New York's busiest thoroughfare for an entire hour in 2014 for his proposal to girlfriend Emilia Bechrakis. The presumably costly proposal was filmed for the next season of Serhant's show and posted on Instagram.

15th March 1964
15th March 1964 by Kristine (CC BY-NC)

Richard Burton & Elizabeth Taylor

Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor became smitten with each other on the set of the 1963 film Cleopatra, but their subsequent engagement was far less public. They managed to buy an opulent emerald and diamond engagement necklace with detachable pendant-brooch from Bulgari without alerting the press by entering and exiting the Via Condotti boutique via a secret door. The piece of jewelry later set a world auction record when it was sold at auction with Taylor's estate in 2011 for $6,578,500.

Staging a Play

Staging a Play

For his proposal, Ukrainian tycoon Gennady Zaleskiy paid $20,000 to stage a live theater production of "The Romantics" with himself as the star. At a point in the play when his character would usually proclaim his love for the leading lady, Zaleskiy instead turned to the audience, where his soon-to-be fiancée sat, and declared, "No, the woman I love is called Victoria, and she is in the sixth row. Will you marry me, Victoria?"

Fake Movie Trailer

Fake Movie Trailer

Polish YouTube star Joe Penna, aka MysteryGuitarMan, proposed to his girlfriend in 2013 with a fake horror movie trailer cut together starring himself using dramatic music and scenes from movies such as "The Grey" and "The Bourne Ultimatum." His unsuspecting bride-to-be saw the trailer while at the theater with friends. When it ended, the lights came up and Penna appeared in the theater with flowers and a ring to pop the question.